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Bolivian Andean Cuisine


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Bolivian Andean Cuisine

Dolcevicci | Jun 24, 2007 07:50 AM

A search on the internet for Bolivian cuisine led us to “Los Tajibos” in Queens. “Los Tajibos” no longer existed and “Nostalgias” was said to be there instead. As we drove to Northern Blvd. in Jackson Heights,Queens, we learned that they were both gone and Club Kabu took its place. We felt pleasantly surprised when we saw Andean Bolivian dishes advertised on a board at the door and walked through the door. In spite of the poorly lit, improvised restaurant, we sat at Club Kabu anxious to enjoy Bolivian food. A well assorted menu with appetizers such as “salteñas”, “humintas”, “khallo paceño” and “khallo cochabambino” raised our taste buds to the top. Salteñas are a variation on empanadas; at Kabu they had a tasty juicy quality and the masa used to make the outer shell was very well done. One of us felt disappointed that there wasn’t more meat inside the meat salteña, but there was more chicken in the chicken salteña. Humintas, a part of Andean cuisine in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, were tasty bundles of cornmeal cooked over a stove. Our experience is that the Bolivian version of humintas should include fresh ground corn, not cornmeal, and should be steamed, not baked in an oven. Once they are baked they have a different name: tamales. Still, the newcomer to Bolivian food enjoyed the humintas, although I barely tasted the cheese that is supposedly inside. The khallo cochabambino (a quechua word in which the first sound is exactly that of the “ch” in Hebrew pronunciation), was a somewhat bland concoction of hominy and green peppers, onions and tomatoes and a little bit of cheese. It disappointed us because Khallo requires fresh white corn that gains flavor from chile peppers and queso fresco. Our next course included sopa de mani another staple of Bolivian cuisine. The two teenagers with us enjoyed the soup, the newcomer thought it was tasty but was over salted. The connoisseur among us complained there were noodles in the soup which should be potatoes in traditionally prepared sopa de mani. The main dishes we ordered were picante surtido, a selection of chicken and beef tongue and chorrellana plates that include meat, rice, fried potatoes (real French fries!) and a fried egg.

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